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  • Writer's pictureMichael McAuliff

McConnell: We Won On Impeachment

The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate both declared Tuesday that they were the winners in impeachment, at least as far as their electoral prospects are concerned.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"I think you'd have to conclude from this episode that we won and they lost," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill.

"Our data shows -- every one of the Republicans in difficult races -- it's hurting them because of it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer countered.

Certainly, the contrary statements are in large part about gamesmanship and spin, but each leader could point to some evidence that they are right.

"I do think that Democrats had a really bad experience the last three weeks," McConnell said. "It underscores why she [Nancy Pelosi] was reluctant to go down that path to begin with. She and I both remember in 1999 we impeached President Clinton. His approval rating went up, and ours went down."

McConnell argued that the drumbeat of news across the entire Senate process did little to help Democrats, but elevated Trump.

"If you look at the only thing that dominated the news for the last three weeks, and then compare that to the president's highest approval ratings since he's been in office -- and I can tell you in all of our competitive Senate races, they're in better shape today than they were a month ago," he said.

McConnell acknowledged that a lot can change between now and November, but he predicted good economic news would boost the president and preserve McConnell's leadership post.

Schumer said he thought things had already turned on Republicans because of the way they dispatched the impeachment proceedings without ever calling fresh witnesses or looking at documents ready to be subpoenaed.

"The American people, including in the tougher states, wanted both witnesses and documents, overwhelmingly," Schumer said. "People [senators] go home and [they're asked], 'Why weren't there witnesses and documents?' I just had an instance where someone came over to me, a staunch Republican, Trump person, and said, 'What was all that about?' And a lady came over, said, 'I'm a Republican but I don't see anything wrong with witnesses and documents.'"

Neither McConnell nor Schumer shared their private polling on races, but in the big-picture of who the country favors in the wake of impeachment, the president does not appear to be faring all that well.

According to Monday's Quinnipiac Poll, every leading Democratic candidate beats Trump. Mike Bloomberg beats him 51 to 42 percent; Bernie Sanders tops him 51 to 43; Joe Biden has a 50 to 43 edge; Amy Klobuchar defeats Trump 49 to 43; Elizabeth Warren scrapes out a 48 to 44 percent win, and Pete Buttigieg leads him similarly, 47 to 43 percent.

The numbers prompted House Democratic Conference Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to declare victory a little differently, citing such poll numbers when he was asked Tuesday if Democrats were paying a price.

"Post verdict in the Senate -- Joe Biden beating Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders beating Donald Trump, Amy Klobuchar beating Donald Trump, Pete Buttigieg beating Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg beating Donald Trump," he said, standing next to conference Vice Chair Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).

"Had they thrown Katherine Clark in there, she woulda beat Donald Trump," Jeffries added with Clark looking a little bemused. "That's the answer to your question."

"I'll just add Elizabeth Warren beats Donald Trump, too," Clark chimed in.


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